DeKalb Schools – News & Updates

  1. DeKalb Schools Lobbyists
  2. Winning Artwork from Austin ES
  3. Chronically Failing Schools
  4. Construction Committees
  5. DeKalb Schools Suing Atlanta Over Annexation
  6. Supt Green – More Money – More Services

The superintendent has engaged Dentons to provide awareness and advocacy for what he wants to get done. Dentons, among other things, will provide the board and administration with regular legislative reports during the session.
It’s challenging to fully understand the nature of Denton’s engagement. The Superintendent’s contract with Denton’s is $99,900 … $100 under the limit before it has to come before the board and discussed publicly.

ARTWORK DeKalb’s 2017 Art Calendar Contest
Three Austin Elementary school students were among the winners of an art calendar contest sponsored by the DeKalb County Watershed Department. Their art will be featured in the department’s 2017 calendar promoting water conservation. Shown with Commissioner Nancy Jester are Audrey, Scarlett and Lindsay.

In December, the 2015-16 College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) scores were released. Last year three schools were removed and six schools added for a net gain of three schools totaling 28.
This year DeKalb Schools is the only metro Atlanta area school with fewer schools than before. DeKalb removed seven schools from the list but added five, for a net decrease of two. Unfortunately the DeKalb County School District still has more schools on the chronically failing list than any other district in the state.

In December the board approved the 2017-2022 E-SPLOST Project List. The project list includes $200+ million for middle and high school capacity additions for schools including Chamblee Charter HS, Clarkston HS, Dunwoody HS, Peachtree MS and a new Brookhaven HS for their new cluster.
Moving forward, in order to support the building improvements, the district’s School Governance Team has been working with Operations to formalize the input of School Councils in the building design process. When a school is approved to have significant construction at the campus, the School Council (or governing board if a conversion charter school) will be informed by the principal and DCSD Operations Division, of the general scope of the project, the project budget, and the related timeline.
The announcement of timing and selection of construction committees for the new Cross Keys HS and major additions of middle and high schools is expected in February.

Interestingly, nobody can tell me how Chamblee Charter HS and Dunwody HS will be better off with these capacity additions. From what I can see, the district will be shoving more students into these schools like sardines with little or no relief to the gym, locker rooms, fields, cafeteria, and other common spaces.

As reported by Decaturish, DeKalb County Schools is suing Atlanta for annexing homes near Emory University. The annexation, approved by the city last year, took in more than 100 residents on 16.31 acres. County leaders have publicly voiced concerns that Emory’s annexation push could prompt other neighborhoods to petition the city.
If Emory is annexed into Atlanta, it is only a matter of time before the adjoining neighborhoods, which contain Druid Hills High School and two other elementary schools, are annexed as well. I go into more detail in Emory Annexation Dominos.  If these areas get annexed, the students within the new City of Atlanta will go to Atlanta Public Schools (APS) and the schools within the new City of Atlanta boundaries will become the property of APS.

In this essay published by the AJC, DeKalb Superintendent Steve Green offers Gov. Nathan Deal suggestions on creating an effective school reform plan. “How do we give students what they need to succeed” is the question Superintendent Green is asking. Dr. Green believes the path to higher academic achievement is “Providing each student – gifted, mentally challenged, expatriated, or burdened by distracting socioeconomic or family needs – with the foundational elements to succeed in schools should be the real issue at the center of new legislation.”
The DeKalb Schools budget has increased by 20% over the last 4 years. Among all the new employees and departments, DeKalb Schools has created a Student Support and Intervention Division to provide “Wrap Around Services” to address the diverse needs of students and families.

21 responses to “DeKalb Schools – News & Updates

  1. al weidenmuller

    It seems like it’s time to explore a school system outside the administration of DeKalb County. The idea of a Tri-Cities school system including Brookhaven, Dunwoody, and Chamblee would seem to make a lot of sense. The funds currently allocated to schools in these districts could/should be available to develop and implement a plan that would more closely (much more closely) address the needs and desires of the population here to provide the educational facilities that will really serve these communities.
    I’ve always been a supporter of public schools, and this isn’t to reduce that support. I also want to believe that we should strongly support the system-wide needs that have gone wanting for so long. Only now, the DeKalb system seems intent on a plan that has quite limited support in these communities that are so directly affected.
    How about seeking legislative support for a change like this?

  2. The state currently limits the number of school districts to 180. In 1945, when they wrote the current constitution, they wrote there shall be no new school systems. Prior to that, the constitution from 1877 to 1945, any municipal or subdivision of state could establish their own school system at will.
    If Brookhaven, Dunwoody and/or Chamblee had some sort of tri-city school system, they would be public schools.
    Much like suing Atlanta over the annexation, I believe the school district will fight tooth and nail to prevent cities from forming their own school districts. That being said, I don’t think it’s on the school district’s radar right now.

  3. Stan,
    You wrote
    “Moving forward, in order to support the building improvements, the district’s School Governance Team has been working with Operations to formalize the input of School Councils in the building design process. When a school is approved to have significant construction at the campus, the School Council (or governing board if a conversion charter school) will be informed by the principal and DCSD Operations Division, of the general scope of the project, the project budget, and the related timeline.”
    Can you please keep the public informed about how the input of School Councils in the building design process is formalized?
    I am concerned because Lynn King, who frequently posts very calm and reasoned thoughts on your blog, says that she served on a Construction Committee that met monthly, yet DCSD still managed to change plans and delete promised items without the Committee’s knowledge. I would like to be sure that Construction Committees aren’t just window dressing. There is a long history of shenanigans with DCSD construction projects.

  4. Given the history of DeKalb Schools from charrettes to the SPLOST Oversight committee, I have a healthy amount of skepticism regarding the weight and value placed on public input by any administration. Stay tuned … I should know more in the next couple weeks.

  5. chamblee getting screwed

    They’ll listen about as well as they listened to the input on SPLOST V.

  6. Mr Jester,
    “The DeKalb Schools budget has increased by 20% over the last 4 years.” What percent of this increase has gone to new administrative jobs ? Including in this situations like the 3 jobs that were changed from the director level to the executive director level. I read in one of the post that a school was trying to get an additional language interpreter, but had not been able to get this. That seems like wrap around service. ‘How do we give students what they need to succeed” is the question Superintendent Green is asking’
    Provide better training for principals especially at schools that serve special populations. Don’t leave out the needs of our special education students.
    How is that 20 percent helping the schools?

  7. Here’s the FY2017 Budget Summary. It gives a 4 year history of the division budgets.
    What I see is that the budget has increased by 20% over the last 4 years. Every year only about 65% of that goes to the classroom. I’m challenged to find where all this money has increased academic achievement.
    This goes back to The Relationship Between Money and Academic Achievement. All over facebook and the AJC, people were touting a recent National Bureau of Economic Research study that compared state spending starting in 1990 and found increased funding improved student outcomes. People kinda missed the part or the point that increased spending increased the achievement of students in low-income districts.
    Law of Diminishing Marginal Returns – For every dollar spent in a low income district, there is a big Return On Investment (ROI). After a certain threshold the ROI diminishes and not only approaches zero, but I would argue that it goes negative, especially when it comes to our leviathan governments.

  8. Stan is being generous when he writes that 65% of the budget goes into the classroom.
    Although this is a requirement of Georgia law, DCSD for years has requested and received a retroactive waiver from the state because it did NOT spend 65% of the budget in the classroom.
    Also, I agree with Joy. Dr. Green requested over $300K in Central Office salaries for this school year for these big wigs. The BOE approved it too. Next year these same folks will be paid around $450K.
    How can Dr. Green do this, yet not find a way to add school interpreters? Fewer than 200 Cross Keys HS students were redistricted to Chamblee Charter HS already this year. Did CCHS get a school-based interpreter? NO! I agree that this is a relatively small number of students, but it is a disservice to them and their needs to pull them out of a Spanish-rich environment and send them to CCHS, which of course is doing the best it can but can’t conjure up Spanish speaking teachers or counselors or administrators.
    I’ll bet that $300K for the Central Office folks would support several interpreters for CCHS and other schools. Yet it doesn’t appear to be a priority of Dr. Green.

  9. chamblee getting screwed

    Wait til you have 800+ from Seqoyah there and 0 interpreters.

  10. Kim Gökçe (DIO's Butt Munch)

    The current DCSD policy is for 2-day per week staff interpreter once a school reaches 300 ELL parents. I have asked for an elaboration of the policy to define under what circumstances the County will fund a full-time interpreter. Let’s see what they establish.
    These roles are in addition to support specialists who are bi-lingual and actual educators. Interpreters are precisely and only that – there to help interpret not instruct.

  11. chamblee getting screwed

    All the reason why a specific school catering to the specific ELL needs is a better choice vs. spreading already thin resources around.

  12. Kim, There is currently no policy that I’m aware of regarding interpreters.
    The level of language services is currently driven by the federal Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides that no person shall “on the grounds of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
    Executive Order No. 13166 “Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency,” is intended to improve access to federally conducted and federally assisted programs and activities for persons who, as a result of national origin, are limited in their English proficiency (LEP).
    The DeKalb County School District receives Federal funding as part of its overall budget and is therefore subject to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Executive Order No. 13166.

  13. @ Kim… Are you talking about Administrative Policies and Stan is talking about Board Policies? I can see that as where there could be a misunderstanding.
    Either way, what Dr. Green did with given a selective few high dollar raises and increasing yet again the central office with another position is not right nor is it fair to our parents and students where English is a second language in the household. You can not tell parents that the reasoning for not putting a full-time interpreter in a school that desperately needs one is financial then create a new position and give raises behind the scenes.

  14. Kim Gökçe (DIO's Butt Munch)

    Yes, I am referencing administrative standard that was shared with me when I inquired with Dr. Tinsley some months ago. I think it is independent of any federal standards or Board of Ed policies.

  15. What is an administrative standard.? What kind of standard was used to add the job of a Marketing Director for 120,000 dollars.? What kind of standard was used to change 3 jobs from a Director to an Exeutive Director. Couldn’t that standard be used to help a school that may need an additional interpreter?
    There seems to be money and procedures for certain jobs to be added or enhanced. But I do not know how that relates to support to the schools
    Mr. Jester, I have the highest respect for you and for Mrs. Jester. You both have created avenues for people to give comments and offer their opinions. As a long time DeKalb resident, I appreciate that.
    But, it is hard to believe that no one in our entire school system is qualified to be a Region I Superintendent. It is hard to understand that there are several jobs opened for Coordinators and there is no one in the school system capable of qualifying for one of those jobs.
    When there is no hope, people leave and go to other systems.

  16. Administrative Standards – Administrative standards, process or procedures describes the things are done not prescribed by policy. They are rarely documented and management can follow it as they see fit. Board policy, generally speaking, doesn’t recognize it outside of a few cases.
    Region I Superintendent – Regional Superintendent is a stressful and time consuming position. Ask your principal what they think about the Regional Superintendent position. There is currently an interim Region I Superintendent which is probably enabling the administration to not focus on finding a permanent employee for that position … bigger fish to fry so to speak.

  17. If Dr. Green is sincere about “realigning how the district supports campuses” by “decentralizing…school leadership into five administrative regions, each with its own regional superintendent” per the 5 point TRUST Turnaround Schools Action Plan, it seems finalizing the permanent regional superintendent who is responsible now for overseeing and coordinating all the “region” team members (finance, facilities, etc staff designated for Region 1) would be a top priority. How is leaving a region in limbo (without a permanent supervisor) for an extended time, providing adequate support to the campuses?

  18. Region 1 has the majority of E-SPLOST projects. Given how disruptive this will be, one would think that having a strong Region 1 Superintendent would be a high priority for Dr. Green.
    But I guess not.

  19. @ Kim: Either the person answering this November On the Scene with Dr. Green question that was just posted on the DCSD web site doesn’t know that policy or it isn’t being followed. Here’s the Q and A:
    Lakeside and Henderson middle schools each has 500-700 Hispanic families. Henderson has an interpreter
    one day a week. Lakeside has none. Often when families come to school or call in, no one can translate for
    them. Also, work schedules and transportation issues can prevent parents and caretakers from being at
    school on the same day as an interpreter … or to hold discussions through an interpreter on other days
    when some issue might come up. Language interpretation is a critical support for this population. Can the
    district find a way to use some of our $400 million reserve to fund this critical need for a marginalized
    group? We value our diversity. We want Hispanic families to be an active part of our school community.
    The district fully recognizes our linguistic diversity and the importance of having meaningful
    communication among students and families who speak a language other than English. Students in our
    district speak more than 150 different languages, so you can see the challenge we face. We also want
    you to see the action we’re taking to support every student and family in our district, no matter the
    native language.
    We use several means to ensure communication takes place in all our schools:
    o We post district interpreters/translators at schools one or more days per week … or on request. We
    assign these interpreters based on the number of families needing services and the type of services
    needed. We have certified district interpreters at all formal meetings, and we use these interpreters
    to write formal letters and notifications.
    o By request, we use certified district interpreters or contracted agency interpreters (available through
    competitive service providers) at planned meetings, to send out parental notices, and to translate
    letters, documents, or other communications.
    o The International Welcome Center Helpline provides district interpreters by phone during the day for
    emergency or unplanned formal meetings.
    o Our Language Line makes phone interpretation service available to all schools. Live interpreters can
    assist with communication in more than 100 languages.
    o Using our ELSA device, live interpreters can assist with emergency communications in 180 languages.
    Also, at Henderson Middle School in particular, the district supports our Spanish-speaking families
    through interpreters on Hispanic Outreach Nights, at school council meetings, and on School Connect,
    which sends messages to the community in Spanish. At Lakeside High School, we have the assigned
    interpreter plus a bilingual liaison one additional day each week.
    The need for bilingual support services continues to increase, and the number of qualified bilingual staff
    members is limited. We’re aggressively studying the best ways to live up to our commitment to provide
    the best communication services to our linguistically diverse community.
    We encourage parents and schools whenever possible to plan visits/meetings needing interpretation
    services ahead of time. Those services can be lined up through our International Welcome Center at 678-

  20. chamblee getting screwed

    Or they could learn English….

  21. @ Chamblee getting screwed: and until they do, we should just leave them in the dark, not engage them in their children’s needs, successes, failures? That’s a mighty thoughtful way to treat your neighbor.